Thrifty buys for the discerning shopper |

Thrifty buys for the discerning shopper

Tamara Miller
Preston Utley/Vail Daily Ten-year-old Byron Crawford and John Crawford 13 of Eagle, attempt to regulate traffic at the Minturn Rummage Sale on Saturday

MINTURN Mary Wollenhaupt is one serious bargain-hunter.The Lakewood resident is a four-year veteran customer of the Eagle Valley Community Fund Auction and Rummage Sale who said, “I’ve been coming ever since I found out about it.”Her experience in garage-sale and yard-sale shopping gives her an edge at the rummage sale, she said. The annual event, in its 40th year, has grown to not only overtake the Maloit Park Community Center, but the grounds surrounding the building. Skis, clothing, appliances, artwork and furniture reside in their assigned rooms, spilling off tables, lined up on shelves. A person could get overwhelmed there.But not Wollenhaupt. She’s made a list. “I’m looking for bike equipment, clothing for my grandchildren and my husband,” she said. “And lawnchairs,” quipped her friend and shopping companion, Mary Kay Carlson.

Hundreds turned out for the rummage sale’s opening day. Doors opened at 6:45 a.m., with shoppers ready to go.The sale continues today, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and next weekend. The sale typically brings in more than $170,000, which is distributed among 65 local nonprofit organizations.By mid-morning, shoppers were walking away with trash bags full of low-priced goods. One woman, with two tote bags full of books, appeared close to collapsing from the weight of her loot. But she wore a smile as she struggled to make her way through the crowd.In honor of the sale’s 40th anniversary, already low prices were slashed even lower than normal. Auction items, such as furniture and vehicles, were sold for just hundreds of dollars. Most clothing was priced below $10, appliances cost less than a trip to the grocery store and books and children’s toys went for pocket change. And that’s precisely why Jennifer Rodriguez drove all they way from Denver to shop for children’s clothes and toys.”Kids grow so fast, you’re always buying them new things,” she said. “These are really good prices.”Good deals or not, her daughter wasn’t crazy about some of the things her mother picked out for her.

“I don’t like that color,” said 7-year-old Janet, pointing to a green-and-blue patterned dress her mother had deemed a good dress for church. Jackets, ski pants, hats, snowboards, helmets and poles beckoned many into the ski equipment room. A few men perused a rack of skies, pulling a pair out and turning them over to inspect the underside. “These skies deserved to be skied,” said a man who identified himself only as Speir.Nevertheless, Speir said he probably wouldn’t be picking up a pair this year. “I already have too many in my garage,” he said.Byron Crawford, 10, of Eagle, was a volunteer at the sale, but that didn’t stop him from checking out the toy selection. “I have no idea what that is,” he said, placing what looked like a large, triangular gun back into a bin.Earlier he found a telephone shaped like a football he thought was “pretty cool.”

“The coolest thing I’ve ever found? That’s a hard question,” he said. “Probably it was last year. I got a really cool remote control car.”Every once in a while, a lucky buyer lands a bargain that turns out to be anything but. Rummage sale organizers have reported thousand-dollar rugs being purchased for just hundreds, or jewelry that is priced for significantly less than its worth. Wollenhaupt and Carlson can’t say they’ve ever made bank on a rummage sale purchase. They just find a lot of stuff they like, they said. “If you can’t decide, just buy it all,” Wollenhaupt said. Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 607, or Colorado

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